Survey results reflect mostly upbeat business outlook

Raymond Keating
Raymond Keating

There’s good news to be heard from small businesses in the results of a survey conducted by Dun & Bradstreet and the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management. Indeed, the news is good largely across the board compared to a year earlier, except for demand for financing.

A few of the positives include:

“In Q3 2017, 87 percent said they are extremely or somewhat confident their business will grow this year compared to 80 percent in Q3 2016.”

“In Q3 2017, 63 percent of all businesses said they were profitable, up from 56 percent in Q3 2016, a 12 percent increase year over year. Seventy five percent of small businesses (with revenues of $500,000 to $5 million) reported positive operating profits in Q3 2017, up from 65 percent in Q2 2017.”

“In Q3 2017, 66 percent of businesses said they plan to hire in the next six months (consistent with Q2 2017 at 65 percent) and up 10 percent compared to a year ago (60 percent Q3 2016).” As for those not looking to hire, it was noted, “Among companies that said they would not hire in the next six months, 21 percent named ‘economic uncertainty,’ 16 percent said ‘ability to find employees’ and 14 percent said ‘government regulations and taxes’ as the reason.”

However, there are some concerns on the financing front. Consider two points reported from the survey:

“While more small businesses are reporting profits, they are also indicating that the current financing environment is restricting growth opportunity — 43 percent said the current business environment is restricting growth in Q3 2017 compared to 32 percent of mid-sized businesses.”

“Demand for financing is down across the board among all size businesses. Financing for planned growth or expansion, including acquisitions not yet realized, was down from 66 percent in Q2 2017 to 62 percent in Q3 2017.”

This D&B/Pepperdine business survey lines up with others over the past year in terms of showing more confidence among businesses.

As for concerns on the financing front, part of that can be alleviated by rolling back the regulatory monstrosity known as the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law and make some overdue improvements regarding Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules, including some crowdfunding fixes.

As always, small business owners are a resilient and optimistic bunch. All government needs to do is provide pro-growth relief from taxes and regulations and remove barriers that hurt capital access and formation and the entrepreneurial sector will drive our economy forward.